During the time period God brought our granddaughters into our lives from the foster care system, we were helping our two sons navigate some very difficult and stressful seasons in their lives. It was not an easy road to travel, but we were blown away time after time how God poured out His grace to us. Truly God’s grace is sufficient. We have walked that walk. Our Lord is graciously turning that daily grace walk into our Grace Journey.
All of this has driven me to dig for all that I can learn about the grace of God. I feel like I am just beginning to see the depth of riches that fill the well of “grace truth” in the scriptures. Additionally, I am reading and drinking in everything I can find from well-known expositors and current commentators. Frankly some is unsatisfying, and yet I find many gems that ring true and faithful to the overarching theme that runs through scripture that our great God is a God of unfailing grace.
I am afraid that much pop-Christian literature projects an image of grace as an excursion into American exceptionalism or the entitlement language of modern-day social thought. It seems like the language of many of these contemporary celebrity authors is a language of consumerist grace, not from the vocabulary of biblical grace.
That language seems to be rooted in “getting” God’s grace and not about God “giving” us grace. It seems to me that there is more than a hint of the entitlement mentality of the 21st century, than an embracing of the enablement promises of 1st century New Testament truth.
Much of the modern day emphasis regarding grace is ostensibly to counter teachings ruled by legalistic thinking. That is perhaps understandable and on the face commendable. As a young man in ministry 50 years ago we constantly confronted the error of works salvation, and during my ministry a behavioral model for Christian living has often been associated with legalism.
Many today do not have any deep roots in the sacramental or moralistic liberal theology of the first two-thirds of the 20th century. Theological understanding outside of the evangelical-fundamentalist sub-culture has become mainly a mystical “Touched by an Angel” spiritualism, New Age spiritism or “nothingism” ─ with the latter becoming the seeming preferred religious category on marketing surveys.
Only in evangelicalism and fundamentalism — supposedly among “confessed” born again believers ─ do we find moralistic theologies surviving. However, I would suggest that the companion theology that has emerged is a consumerist theology that says, “now that I have received Jesus as Savior I get to freely enjoy all the good life that my slightly sanitized cultural immersion affords me.” Boundaries are set to err on the side of acceptance, and “you are special” is the anthem that is sung with gusto.
I am not enamored with going back to the good old days of ministering in a theological world dominated by religious liberals ─ and that isn’t going to happen. Theological liberalism is bankrupt and has given way to secularism. That is what Bible believers warned about 50-75 years ago ─ and it has happened!
What I am thrilled about today is to learn that God’s ministry of grace can still be seen at work. If not, then God is not God and we cannot sing “My Hope is in the Lord.” But I long for younger generations today to see and live the realization of what it means to witness “trophies of God’s Grace” brought forth by God’s power as the result of saving grace.
As a young person, and in my early days of ministry, there were many individuals (especially men) in our churches who gave glowing testimonies of being saved from lives of deep sin and hopelessness. In fact, one of the dangers warned about in those days was a fear that highlighting their sinful exploits too much would inadvertently glorify the sinful lifestyle.
Two men especially had a profound influence on my life. Both men had been deeply involved in the Chicago mob led by the notorious gangster Al Capone. Both men, George Mensik and Joe Pierce, had been saved for 15-20 years when they touched my life. Joe “the Fixer” Pierce had been a low-level corrupt political boss on the south side of Chicago. I met him when I was a teenager and he was serving in a Chicago youth ministry. He exuded a love for teenagers, but he was very frank about the horrible pit from which he was saved.
George Mensik was what we called our “preachin’ deacon” at the church where my father was pastor. George had been involved in the bootlegging business and white slave trafficking of the depression era crime syndicate. He had been gloriously transformed by the time I knew him and was a missionary to the prisons of America.
George never glorified his sinful life of wealthy excess, heavy drug and alcohol abuse and brutality. But he didn’t hesitate to call a spade a spade. He truly loved the sinner; but hated the sin that he had been saved from. I saw the stash of cash that he carried in his wallet so that he could go to the homes of prisoners’ families and put groceries on their table because dad was locked up in jail.
What a true evidence of God’s grace that man was. He was a walking example of the truth of Eph. 2:8 & 9. It was all of grace…and God was proven gracious; just as His word promises.
Some big prayer requests are dominating our journey and we must daily talk to the Lord about our dependence on Him. But the sufficiencies of the touches of His grace that He has given over the recent years have been incredible to behold. What a joy to see Him work. The battle ─ and the victory ─ is the Lord’s.
Kristy wrote this benediction to conclude a Christmas letter several years ago written to her praying friends:
My dad said to me when the girls first arrived, “Kristy, this matter is much bigger than you, but you get to enjoy the experience.” This is so true.
In 2015 Ariel and Amelia were permanently brought into the Walker family through adoption. The Grace Journey is growing richer each year.